News from the CRC


Release date
11 Aug 2016
More information:
Nathan Maddock
Senior Communications Officer

How resilient is Australia to disaster?

Australasia’s emergency management sector will convene to discuss the changing role of emergency response agencies, and the importance of creating resilient communities, at AFAC16 powered by INTERSHUTZ in Brisbane this August. 

Co-produced by the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC) and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre, the conference is themed Mitigation – Response – Recovery: Getting the balance right, and will discuss the evolving function of emergency managers in preventing and responding to disaster. It will also highlight the need for the influence of our emergency services in the recovery process, post-disaster, to be bolstered.

Stuart Ellis, CEO, AFAC highlighted the sector’s need to redefine their role in protecting and supporting local communities.

“In the last five years, we have seen catastrophic disasters in our region including the Brisbane floods, bushfires across the country and the Christchurch earthquakes - each event has reinforced the need for emergency managers to think differently about how they respond, and their role in the recovery of the local community.

“AFAC16 will bring together global emergency management experts to share insights on how we can improve the balance of resources across mitigation, response and recovery. It is vital that across Australasia we are resilient in the face of disaster, and it is our emergency managers and researchers who are at the forefront of creating this resilience,” said Mr Ellis.

Across four days, the conference will showcase the latest thinking from national and international experts, with over 80 presentations - including keynotes - across seven core themes, comprising of Disaster Resilience, Transformational Leadership, Predictive Services, Capacity for Coordination, Partnerships, Building Back Better and Integration, Diversity and Inclusion.

Australian and international keynote speakers include:

  • Katarina Carroll APM, Commissioner, Queensland Fire and Emergency Service | From the Queensland Police Service (QPS) to Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) – leadership challenges and opportunities
  • Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr, Fire Chief Austin (Texas) Fire Department and President IAFC Board of Directors | The future state of fire services – change is inevitable
  • Dr Jeff Kepert, Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC project leader and Head of High Impact Weather, Bureau of Meteorology | Why use ensemble weather prediction?
  • Katherine Jones Deputy Secretary, National Security and Criminal Justice Group, Attorney-General’s Department | The Australian Government’s disaster resilience agenda
  • Dr Anthony Bergin, Deputy Director, Australian Strategic Policy Institute | Prevention is better than cure: why mitigation is critical to building a resilient nation
  • Dr David Henderson, Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC project leader and Director of the Cyclone Testing Station at James Cook University | Are our homes and buildings failing us? Excessive damage and loss during storms and cyclones

For the first time, AFAC will partner with INTERSHUTZ, Europe’s largest trade fair for fire rescue, civil protection and security. The partnership with INTERSCHUTZ organisers, Deutsche Messe, has attracted a number of international companies, many of whom are exhibiting in Australia for the first time. New and returning international exhibitors include: SCANIA, SASGAR, Fraser Fire & Rescue, Hino Motor Sales, ISUZU Trucks, IVECO Trucks, Off Road Trucks, Mercedes Benz and Volvo Group.

Live demonstrations will allow attendees to experience firsthand the latest developments in emergency equipment and technology. Each day of the exhibition, The Australian Road and Rescue Organisation (ARRO) will demonstrate innovative car rescue techniques during a live simulation; plus live product activations from BullEx & HAAGEN – a virtual fire training device and PV Spot – a fire retardant solution that neutralises the risk of the DC Danger Zone created by solar panels during a fire.

Harvey Stockbridge, Managing Director of Deutsche Messe in Australia, said the partnership with INTERSHUTZ places AFAC on the global stage for emergency rescue research and development.   

“The partnership between AFAC and INTERSHUTZ brings to Australia the latest thinking, research and technology from around the world to an Australasian audience. Agencies visiting the exhibition will see products and services from over 150 companies, including 45 international exhibitors, of which over half have not previously exhibited before in Australia.”

“AFAC is the best opportunity for emergency managers from across Australasia to hear from global experts, see live demonstrations of the newest technology and connect and learn from likeminded colleagues,” said Mr Stockbridge.

The conference commences on Tuesday, 30 August with a dedicated Research Forum, highlighting how the latest research and scientific developments into natural hazards will benefit emergency managers. A diverse range of research will be on show, says the CEO of the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre, Dr Richard Thornton.

“Emergency and land managers will benefit greatly by engaging directly with researchers on key industry issues. There is no silver bullet for natural hazards safety, and we must continue to ask the difficult and complex questions to identify what we do not know,” said Dr Thornton.

AFAC16 powered by INTERSHUTZ – emergency management conference will take place at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre from Tuesday 30 August – Thursday 1 September 2016, with Post Conference Development Sessions taking place on Friday 2 September 2016.

For more information visit:  

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